The BSU helps carry the decades-long battle for racial equity into the new year at UW Tacoma.
The battle for racial equity carries on in 2021, as the Black Student Union opens its virtual arms for students interested in discussing the Black experience, according to BSU President LaKymbria Jones.
“Our mission is to foster a safe, open, inclusive and engaging space for Black students,
and any student in general who are interested in discussing topics that relate to the Black
experience,” Jones said.
Jones explained that the club allows students to talk about their own personal experiences that may be overlooked in a standard class environment.
“I believe people are interested in joining BSU because they either can relate to the experience
because they go through it, or they’re students that are interested in knowing more about the complex experience of Black students living in America,” she said.
She noted that before joining, many students are unaware of how different the experience Black students may have but often leave with a better understanding along with knowledge surrounding empathetic means to approach the differences on campus.
Knowledge of social issues isn’t the only thing members can leave with. Jones believes the BSU can help members make new friends that they otherwise wouldn’t outside of BSU.
“Members are able to engage with other students they have classes with and establish study groups, and have better access/engagement to events going on around campus that they can feel confident in participating in with a sense of belonging as a member of BSU,” she said.
With Black History Month just around the corner, the club has brainstormed a few events to bring awareness to Black issues while simultaneously bringing students together.
“We always have a month full of different events, both big and small, to engage students in many different aspects of Black History,” she said. “So far, we have had ideas for zoom movie nights where we watch and talk about Blaxploitation movies and even other movies that we all want to watch just to have a social get together.”
Jones wants students to know that COVID health regulations need not be a barrier to make new friends and learn new things.
“COVID and social distancing has made it really tough to do all the event ideas we come [up] with because of the health regulations and wanting to keep everyone’s safety in mind, but that won’t stop us from creating events that are still fun and covid-friendly as we maneuver this pandemic,” she said.
COVID restrictions have led to changes in meeting times and have required the club to become more flexible with its accessibility.
“At the moment, we are sending out short surveys for students that email us with interest to help
determine the best day and time, so more people are able to be involved with their busy
schedules,” Jones said. “Now we have noticed that with our changing environment, we need to be more flexible for BSU to be accessible to as many people as possible.”
Jones shared her belief that the club isn’t exclusive for Black students and wants everyone to join in to amplify their voices on campus.
“I encourage all, not solely Black students, to join BSU as we are in a high peak of social injustices, but also even to just have a place for your voice to be heard on a platform that many students don’t get otherwise on our campus,” she said.
She expanded further, explaining that having people from varying backgrounds can help the campus be more inclusive.
“We have seen a variety of different students from different backgrounds that have felt
inspired to support change, especially with social issues like Black Lives Matter,” she said.
“They help to foster a more inclusive society for all people starting at our campus.”
Jones said students could take their first step in creating a more inclusive campus by contacting their club email at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to their contact list and thus receive updates, meeting times and upcoming events to engage in.